A new study shows that heart disease risk factors, such as high colesterol and obesity, are far higher for U.S. Hispanic/Latino adults than for the general U.S. population. However, the results also show that those risk factors vary greatly for Hispanics and Latinos of different backgrounds.
The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It shows that 80% of Hispanic/Latino men and 71% of Hispanic/Latino women have at least one risk factor for heart disease. In the U.S. general population, around 49% of adults have one major risk factor for heart disease.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Hispanic/Latino people in the United States; however, prior research has underestimated the burden of heart disease risk factors in Hispanic/Latino populations,” said Dr. Larissa Avilés-Santa, project officer for HCHS/SOL at the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences in the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). “Additionally, previous studies on heart disease risk factors among Hispanics/Latinos have mainly involved Mexican-American participants, or have considered Hispanics/Latinos as a single group.”
Among the Hispanic/Latino population of the U.S., the study found that those born in the U.S. or who have lived in the U.S. for 10 year or more and prefer English over Spanish (what the study calls “acculturated”) are “significantly” more likely to have three or more risk factors for heart disease. Also, those with lower education or incomes were also significantly more likely to have more than one risk factor.
“Clinicians now have more data to understand the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in Hispanic/Latino communities,” said Dr. Greg Talavera, professor in the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University, where the study took place. “For example, here in San Diego the majority of Hispanic/Latinos are of Mexican background and the study found that the prevalence of diabetes was generally higher compared to other Hispanic/Latino background groups.”